Archive for December, 2005

In the larger Indian context IT industry is not relevant – Is that true?

December 15, 2005

During “Osmosis” – MindTree’s Tech Fest on December 14, 2005 – that show-cased Bluetooth Analog IC imaginatively on “Bindi” – Subroto Bagchi, COO moderated a controversial panel discussion on this topic.

Subroto has assembled Arundhati Nag (of Ranga Sankara fame), Ramesh Ramanathan (of Janaagraha fame), Narendra Pani (of Economic Times), Krishna Kumar (MindTree Co-Founder) and me.

There was general discussion on the need for IT Pro’s to engage with civic society, IT Pro’s not to get arrogant enough to think that what is good for IT industry is good for everyone, IT Pro’s to think of culture as part of their larger learning, need for “left brain” and “right brain” synthesis etc.

My own argument was simple – it is a half cup; it is for people to say it is “half full” or “half empty“.

The following points would prove this

    IT industry will create 5 Million jobs by 2010; for a country of billion people it is no big deal; alternately, with 3-4 jobs created for every job in IT, 15-20 Million jobs (larger than the population of many countries ) is no mean achievement!

    IT guys are arrogant; after all IT (IIT & IIIT included) is full of I’s (ego); but IT also got respect for Indians (from a country that was accused of exporting nothing but communicable disease, today we export Rs. 100,000 Crores of software)

    IT guys are insensitive; they buy trousers for thousands of Rupees; but look at the fact that the ambience and amenities that an entry level employee enjoys on Day 1 in an IT company is the same as that the Founder & CEO enjoys; while in traditional Indian industry, CEO’s had fancy offices even in 70’s, though the workers had a shoddy place! Premji Foundation alone is putting 6 Million kids back to School, that too among Government Schools

Inside Microsoft – Bill Gates Live in Bangalore on December 9, 2005

December 10, 2005

In his keynote address in Bangalore during the launch of Digital Lifestyle, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates talked of the dominant ideas that spanned a decade and the association of Microsoft with the theme –
Start of Microsoft in 1975,
PC growth in 1985,
Windows 95 & Internet Explorer in 1995 and
Web Services starting from 2005.

Bill Gates talked of Broadband changing the way we live in what he called “High Definition Generation”. He outlined Xbox 360 Console, IP TV from Microsoft, MSN with Virtual Earth and Windows Live as the dominant offerings from Microsoft in the years to come.

In yet another event he launched Visual Studio 2005, SQL Server 2005 & BizTalk Server 2005 – that show significant enhancements in features in performance.

Visual Studio 2005 has separate workbenches fro Architect, Designers & Coders and the Integrated Environment is spectacular

Intel Chairman Craig Barrett on Teachers & PC’s

December 7, 2005

Intel Chairman during his recent visit to India and the CNBC Interview on “Indian competitiveness” talked of the importance of teachers in no uncertain terms. He recalled as to how most of us had been influenced by great teachers during our school days.

With computers or without computers, we will have good education as long as we have good teachers. With bad teachers, there is no hope of a great education with or without computers.

Coming from the Chairman of Intel, the company that pioneered PC’s with its dominant microprocessors for two decades (Intel 8086, 286, 386, 486 and Pentium), the message is loud and clear, particularly for many of our “education managers” obsessed with “meddling with education”

(Panel discussion at Delhi on December 6, 2005 with Craig Barrett & Amar Babu of Intel, Sangeeta Reddy of Apollo Hospitals, Vinay Deshpande of Encore Software, Rajendra Pawar of NIIT and me, and anchored by Govindaraj Ethiraj of CNBC TV 18 India)

Short Message Service (SMS) completes thirteen long years

December 3, 2005

SMS is 13 years old. It was on December 3, 1992 that Neil Papsworth sent an SMS from a PC to Richard Jarvis of Vodafone UK.

Invented by Finnish civil servant Matti Makkonen in 1982 and submitted to GSM Standard in 1984, it became a reality in 1992. The original specification allowed 140 8-byte characters; most phones use 7 byte characters and get 160 characters on the same payload; most people think of SMS as 160-character long and there is even a site www.160characters.org, a marketing site that exploits SMS heavily.

Long messages can be split into multiple messages and delivered. The users can opt for a delivery report; SMS uses “best delivery” approach and cannot guarantee delivery but it works in most cases.

There are Premium SMS services ringtones being the prime example; here the revenue from the customer is shared between service provider and content provider; Finland customers have been using premium SMS to “call” the vending machine, get a coke bottle dispensed by the vending machine and charge the cost of the drink to their monthly phone bills.

Free SMS has been the primary reason for the phenomenal success of mobile phones in Chennai. With very low rates (about Rs 0.40 or $ 0.01) SMS is very popular in countries like India; most Asian countries use public transport and their hands are free to SMS (unlike USA and West Europe where people are “on the wheels”). Television shows like American Idol in USA or KBC in India generate a huge demand for SMS and in fact load the networks to their full capacity!

Starting at 17 Billion in 2000, SMS traffic is shot up to 500 Billion in 2004. By December 31, 2005 we are likely to cross 1 Trillion SMS messages. There were 8,5 Million SMS messages sent on Airtel network on Dipawali day (November 1, 2005) alone!

The younger generation has come up with SMS lingo (“hvru” for “How are you”); there are even concerns expressed at this “new” form of expression. There are techniques like predictive text – T9 from AOL, for example, that permit people like me to send fully composed English and yet typing the minimal keys on the mobile phone, but many people still do not use them. T9 claims that those users who use T9 are able to send 10 times more messages than those who do not use T9!

SMS in available for Indian languages also, though the usage is not that high. There have been reported cases of student indiscipline in University of Maryland in USA and Hitotsubashi University in Japan triggered by use of SMS to send solution to examinations!

Interestingly 93-year old Australian telegraph operator Gordon Hill defeated 13-year Brittney Devlin in a contest in May 2005; Hill used Morse text to send “Hey girlfriend, you can text all your best pals to tell them where you are going and what you are wearing” in 90 seconds, while Devlin took 108 seconds even after using SMS lingo! Discipline can rule over technology!